Effective Social Media Marketing: Are we in denial?

 

Love it or hate it if you are promoting something you are waist-deep or at least dipping a toe into the social media marketing landscape.  For public relations professionals, we are always focused on effective social media marketing tactics that will build our clients’ audiences.  I’ve written about social media on this blog, often breaking down different platforms and their uses, listing the latest stats, and how to build a content strategy.  However, I am adding this to the conversation because I think many of us are in denial. Our expectations and feelings about how things should work are getting int the way of our own success.    Below are some statements related to social media conversations I’ve had.  If you relate to one or more of these, then you might want to read on.

  1. My follower count on Instagram only increases by 5 to 10 followers per week so my campaign isn’t working.
  2. Nobody wants to hear from me on Twitter because I don’t get likes or retweets.
  3. I post contests and polls on Facebook and I don’t get any audience participation.
  4. I post every day and I’m not growing.

Time for a reality check

 

It’s time to face reality.  There are 3.3 billion people on social media; there are bots and marketing agencies spewing generic content; advertising is cluttering news feeds; and if you aren’t a celebrity, you won’t gain followers by the hundreds.  So why does anyone even bother you ask?  Because there are 3.3 billion people using social media.  If your audience was just a fraction of that number you could be happy.

We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to all of these people directly.  But you have to be thoughtful, dare I say strategic about how you talk them.    If you do your homework and start talking to your “people” who want to hear what you have to say, then you will grow and you may even become an influencer someday.  If your social media platforms are not behaving the way you want them to, it is likely that you are not properly focused on who you are trying to reach and what you need to communicate.

Build Authentic Online Relationships

Relationship building online is about earning the trust and loyalty of your customers and audiences so you can maintain, and grow your numbers.   But how do you do that?  Is it by working with a company that will push out “snackable” content? (I was pitched that idea by a social marketer.  Let me ask you this: If you were at a cocktail party would you want to talk to a robot who can say a dozen sentences or a real person who can tell you about a trip to Belize)? Is it by talking about how great you are or how wonderful your product is?  Would having a roomful of cats posted on Instagram fit the bill?

Even though we can now hide behind our screens, it doesn’t mean that the skills and needs of human interaction are out the window.  If anything, you need to be even more thoughtful about your dialogue with others to practice effective social media marketing.  Your content needs to be authentic and you need to do your due diligence and research in advance to identify an audience that will be interested in receiving your messages.  After you determine your audience, you need to figure out how to reach it, what platforms to use, the content you will use, and when you are going to post and share.

It takes time and tenacity

To build an army takes an army and that’s what you are doing.  You are setting up a foundation of friends and followers who want to know about your ideas or buy your product.  If satisfied, they will help spread the word via retweets, shares, and referrals.  And as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I was at a conference recently a woman asked me about an aggregation application that helped drive followers on Twitter, but she was losing followers as quickly as she was gaining them.  I told her that Twitter has been public about their attempt to rid the server of unattended accounts and spambots.  Aggregators are not a shortcut when it comes to quality, actionable followers.  The ones you end up with are often spam and other ineffective types.  You need to put a real engagement plan into action, stick to it, monitor the results, and take appropriate action when necessary.

We all need to accept that this process is going to take a lot of work.  I’ve got a business built around media with a heavy social focus, and I know about the time that goes into an effective social media marketing campaign.  But if you aren’t able to hire somebody to do it for you, then you can set up a schedule that works for you.  Block out time every day to work on internet engagement and research.  Find a tracking program or use the tools that the individual platforms provide so you can see how your content is doing.  Someone told me once regarding careers that you start with one brick and soon you will have built a wall.  So go ahead and start your construction and you will see how things progress.

The last thing I’ll add is for people who dislike social media or do not feel comfortable with it.  My advice is: Don’t establish any platforms you are not going to use.  If you feel super hesitant about social campaigning, then do not do it.   In a future post, I’ll present some ideas for alternatives that will still build your SEO presence online.

Additional Informational Resources

Here are a couple of  articles from around the internet that talk about current content and social strategies:

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

12 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

 

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The Not-so-Sexy Side of Book Publishing

People think what I do is glamorous and super cool – publishing.  When I was a recruiter we used to use “Publishing” as a headline to attract talent for our open positions that were basically secretarial jobs or filing clerks. There used to be editors and publishers who were almost like celebrities in the New York scene.  Books were launched with parties at trendy venues, lucrative deals were made at Book Expo, and everyone was looking to discover the next Salinger, Hemingway, Roth, Asimov, Morisson, Kerouac, or any other writer you admire.  Sounds like fun, right?

What I’ve said so far is what the audience sees.  Most people in the industry don’t expose the magic by showing you what happens backstage.  It’s not all that interesting, but these things must be done to publish professionally and competitively.

In the indie publishing world, I see repeats of wasted opportunities and misinformation about how things work that can be cleared up by remembering a few details and rules.  As a publicist, and, now, a publisher, I’m going to wear both of my hats and dish the dirt on what you need to know.

Publishing Tips

  1. Format: Proper formatting is a very basic aspect of putting a book together.  When I was an editorial assistant we called it front and back matter.  I don’t know if that’s what the managing editors are calling it these days, but it still works for me.  These are the pages at the front of the printed book including a title page; copyright page; dedication; acknowledgments; author’s note; and predetermined blank pages.   The title page and copyright page are mandatory, while the others will or won’t be added depending on the author.  My advice is to look at books from traditional publishers to see what they are doing with their pages and copy the format.
  2. Identification: There are identifiers your book needs.  Without them, it doesn’t exist in the market and can’t be sold.  They are ISBNs, bar codes, and a Library of Congress number.  Most everyone seems to know how to get the first two, but the latter is still often missing.  I was taught that it is necessary, especially if you want libraries to find, recognize, and shelve your title.  Check out this site for information on how to get your number(s).
  3. Accessibility: If you choose to publish exclusively with Kindle Direct, independent bookstores, and probably the chain stores as well will not know about your book, nor will they want to stock it.  When you sign up with Amazon’s publisher only, your sales channels are those that Amazon covers.  To have your book recognized in the trade market, you need to upload it with a national wholesaler such as Ingram, which is now the only wholesaler that distributes to independent stores.  You can also try to solicit wholesale orders through your website, but that still won’t give you the credibility you need with the trade market.  I recommend doing all of the above.
  4. Credibility: Bookstores and publications will look to see if your book is listed in Ingram’s database.  I’ve had conversations with editors at publications who will look up the book and if they don’t see it in Ingram they won’t cover it.  Why?  Because some bad apples in the indie publishing world convinced these people to review books that never made it to publication.  The quote I’ve heard is, “I’ve been burned before”.

Book Marketing and Publicity

Regarding promoting a book, there are two major issues I keep coming across.

  1. You have to consider timing.  I won’t belabor the point here because I’ve said it many times before.  If you have written a novel or memoir, you will need three to five months ahead of your publication date to send out review copies and allow for publications and bloggers to read and schedule reviews of your book.  For a prescriptive non-fiction title that has “news you can use” there is a bit more flexibility, especially if it is tied into your career or field of expertise.
  2. Printed review copies are necessary.  In indie publishing, we often use the finished book as a review copy and have it stickered or printed in a way that indicates it is a preliminary version.  The publication date is printed on the book or sticker so that it is clear when it will be for sale.  You can register with Net Galley, offer a watermarked pdf, -mobi file or ebook, but 90% of the reviewing public wants a hard copy.  I know it’s an added expense but you will be better off in the long term doing it the correct way.

For more resources and information I recommend the Independent Book Publishers Association website.  It’s not that expensive for a membership, which will give you full access.  Also, I suggest visiting Jane Friedman’s website.  She is a veteran in the industry, a professor, editor, and a published writer.

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

 

 

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Book Marketing 101: Create Visibility for Your Book with These 5 Tips

You’ve written a book and published it — but the sales just aren’t happening. The biggest likely reason for this is that no one knows that you or your book exists, even if it’s been uploaded to Amazon. There are thousands of authors on Amazon vying for people to buy their books. That’s why authors need to create visibility so that they can stick out from the crowd.

It can be really tough to put yourself out there and talk about yourself and your work, but if people don’t know who you are, then they won’t buy your book!

Here are some ideas for authors to create visibility for their books:

  1. Visit your local bookstore, retail stores, or library. Dropping by and leaving a copy of your book for the bookseller or librarian will help them learn who you are as a person and give them the chance to look at your book before deciding to purchase. Many indie authors shy away from selling books on consignment, but sometimes it’s the best that your indie bookstore can do, especially if your book is not available through the proper distribution channels or is unavailable for return.
  2. Have a release party or event. Invite friends and family to celebrate your new book at your house, and have them purchase copies there. Or you can have it at a restaurant where you can incorporate the plate price with the price of the book, so everyone who comes is guaranteed a copy. You can also see if your local bookstore will have an event for you, if you are positive you can get enough attendees to come. (Read more about authors events in this blog post.)
  3. Ask family and friends to review on Amazon or BN.com. Supposedly, those with more reviews on Amazon are more likely to be included in the company’s email newsletters and receive more visibility overall–although to be honest, nobody but Amazon knows how their algorithm works. It’s still worth having friends and family post reviews so that it will generate interest for others to read your book. Books with no reviews whatsoever will likely be passed over by shoppers.
  4. Put yourself out there at festivals and conferences. Start visiting local book festivals and writers conferences and hand out cards or copies of your book. See if any of them will put you on a panel. Many festivals have the option for author signings, although you most likely have to pay for that privilege, at least in the beginning.
  5. Make sure it’s easily accessible for purchase. Even though Amazon is the most popular online outlet to purchase books, readers do have other shopping preferences–whether it’s a local store or a Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media pages have links to these sites and to Indiebound, so that your audience can purchase through their favorite indie bookstore.

It’s important to get yourself out there in some way, shape, or form to create visibility–whether it’s by putting yourself out their physically or through online channels. You may not sell hundreds of copies at first, but you’ll be on your way to make yourself known. The readers will come–you just need to put your foot out the door.

If you’re an indie author, do you use any of the above ways to create visibility for your books? Tweet about it to us @McKinneyPR!

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Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?

Do You Know What a Book Publicist DoesDO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
By Claire McKinney

For more information on the book visit our Plum Bay Publishing page or on Amazon.

Book publishing is an ever-changing industry—between technological advancements, the emergence of self-publishing, and the rise of social media, how can an author distinguish their book from the competition? Whether traditional or self-published, authors can be left in the dark when it comes to promoting and marketing their books.

Book publicity expert Claire McKinney has found that the lack of information on how book promotion works has left most authors without a clear idea of how they can contribute to their campaigns. Her new book DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns, stems from over twenty years of experience in the field.

In her book, McKinney exposes the depth of extensive campaigning necessary for successful promotion. From this, authors can begin to understand the everyday workings of their in-house publicist—and for indie authors, how they can improve their own promotional efforts.

Book promotion can be rife with opportunities to make or break an author’s career, and McKinney examines these pitfalls. Showing writers how to brand themselves and identify their professional goals to properly prepare their books for success, McKinney also dives deep into important topics such as creating a personal image, writing press kits, and the importance of building momentum through media with unique insight that could only be provided by a seasoned industry professional.

Combining professional advice with charts and case studies, authors will see the inner workings of book publicity at every angle from initial idea generation to event planning.

In DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? authors will learn:

• How to promote their book to the media
• How to create their own media contact list
• How to write press release materials and how to use them
• How to create a timeline and plan a campaign on their own
• How to pitch, who to pitch, and when
• How to talk to their publisher about publicity

With McKinney’s clear voice, readers will be equipped with the tools they need to create a campaign from scratch, and have fun in the process. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? serves as a comprehensive step-by-step guide that every author should have in their arsenal.

About the Author
Claire McKinney is twenty-year veteran of the publishing industry. She has worked for major publishers, including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing Claire has appeared on CSPAN and on the Today Show as an expert on self-publishing. She travels regularly to speak to authors and audiences about book promotion, publishing, and social media marketing. Visit her at www.clairemckinneypr.com.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
Claire McKinney
Plum Bay Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9988617-0-8
Paperback
Price $11.99
146 pp

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